Officials with the Old 6th Ward Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone launched a website and released a series of renderings in May showcasing the vision for mobility and community improvements in the district, an area that includes parts of Washington Avenue as well as Silver, Sawyer and Center streets within Arts District Houston.
A TIRZ is an area where taxes are leveraged on new development that are strictly required to be spent on improvements within the zone's boundaries. The 94-acre Old 6th Ward TIRZ—which was created in 1998—brought on consulting firm Traffic Engineers Inc. in October to facilitate the development of a mobility and safety plan. At the same time, the firm Asakura Robinson was brought on to handle community outreach and produce renderings.
The overarching goal of the plan is to reimagine key corridors in a way that makes them more accessible to different modes of transportation while also promoting and sustaining economic activity for businesses in the area.
- Washington Avenue: Proposals include adding a new signalized crossing section at Silver Street, a high-comfort bikeway, enhanced transit stops and an improved pedestrian realm.
- Washington Avenue and Center Street: The two streets, which run parallel to one another, would be shifted away from light industrial toward a new mix of uses. Center Street would be reconstructed with new sidewalks, improved drainage, and a new mixed-use sidepath for people walking and biking.
- Silver Street: Proposals prioritize safety for pedestrians and access to transit while maintaining vehicular mobility. Improvements include a high-comfort bikeway, trail connections, and intersection and crossing improvements.
- Lubbock Street: Proposals include a shared on-street bikeway west of Sabine Street that would transition to bike lanes east of Sabine. Other improvements include intersection enhancements, signage, filling sidewalk gaps and the installation of curb ramps. Planners also note that the METRORail Green/Purple line will be extended to the Houston Municipal Court, which could bring more development.
- Winter Street: The street would become a walkable/bikeable promenade area between Henderson and Sawyer streets. A multi-use trail would ultimately connect the Silver Street bikeway to Sawyer Street.
The Old 6th Ward TIRZ and Asakura Robinson also sponsored the painting of a mural at 2118 Washington Ave., Houston, at the Salvation Army building. The mural, which is being done by Houston-based artist Sylvia Blanco, is part of the Big Walls Big Dreams mural festival.
While more detailed notes on the plan's elements have not yet been released, officials with Asakura Robinson said a draft of the plan will be released for public comment in the first week of June. After the plan is finalized, the TIRZ can develop short- and long-term capital improvement projects.
A survey to gather feedback on the renderings can be filled out here.